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Fukushima: A Dire SOS Message

There is nothing clean, carbon-wise, about nuclear power, and the only thing green about it is the glowing radioactivity.

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster first began back in March of 2011, there have been near-daily updates on the condition of that stricken plant, updates which have been getting worse and worse, painting a very dire scene at the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

From the moment the earthquake and tsunami devastated the plant, officials have been struggling to contain the leaks of radioactive waste, fuel, and cooling water.

In February, for example, officials discovered a fish in a nearby water intake station for the plant that contained more than 7,400 times the recommended safe limit of radioactive cesium.

And now, officials are concerned that, because of all of the leaks, power outages, and glitches that have occurred, the Dai-chi nuclear power plant could begin to break apart and cause an even worse nuclear disaster, when a decades-long clean-up process finally begins.

But despite all of the chaos in Japan, and the continued fears of more nuclear disasters down the road, here in the United States, we are still relying heavily on nuclear power.

And to make matters worse, there are 23 General Electric Mark 1 nuclear reactors across our country, the same kind of nuclear power plants that failed so miserably at Fukushima.

These Mark 1 reactors are located all across America, from Vermont to Minnesota, New York to Nebraska.

If just one of these reactors were to fail on the level that the Fukishima Dai-ichi Mark 1 reactor did, we could be looking at an unprecedented disaster.

But don’t tell that to government officials, lawmakers, or nuclear power proponents, who continually argue that not only is nuclear power one of the safest forms of energy, but that it is also one of cleanest and greenest forms of energy.

Events like Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island disprove the safety claims about nuclear power pretty well, but what about the claims that it is one of the cleanest and greenest forms of energy out there?

Proponents of nuclear power love to claim that nuclear power is a “carbon-free” solution to climate change. Even Obama’s new Energy Secretary has said so.

Nuclear power lobbyists claim that the production of energy via nuclear power doesn’t emit any CO2, and as a result, is one of cleanest forms of energy out there.

But this is non-sense.

There is nothing clean, carbon-wise, about nuclear power, and the only thing green about it is the glowing radioactivity.

When nuclear power advocates argue that it’s a “carbon-free” form of energy, they’re failing to realize that, whenever a power plant is built, whether it’s a solar plant, a wind plant, or a nuclear plant, there is always CO2 emitted. Every form of energy production produces some amount of CO2.

In order to accurately calculate just how much CO2 is produced from a power plant, you have to look at the entire life-cycle of the plant as well as the production of the raw energy that it produces.

With nuclear power, that means looking at the construction of the plant, the operation of the plant, maintenance and refurbishment efforts and the decommissioning and dismantling of the plant’s nuclear reactor. And, you must also look at the nuclear fuel used, and the process for mining, refining, and transporting it.

Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith, nuclear energy consultants with Ceedata Consultancy in the Netherlands, carried out life-cycle analyses of nuclear power plants, and found, on average, they produce anywhere from 90 to 140 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour of electricity.

In comparison, solar power, wind power and hydroelectricity produce anywhere from 10 to 40 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour of electricity, while gas burning power plants produce 330 to 330 grams of CO2.

In other words, nuclear energy does produce carbon, and it certainly isn’t the solution to curbing the devastating effects of global warming and climate change. It’s less than gas, oil, or coal, but far, far more than solar.

The fact that government officials in Japan are continuing to struggle with the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plants, more than two years after they initially failed, should be all the proof needed that nuclear power is far too volatile a form of energy to safely rely on.

All the myths about nuclear power have been debunked.

It’s time to shut down reactors and put an end to nuclear power worldwide.

And let’s start that process right now – right here in the USA. No nukes.

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